BIDDEFORD — About five years ago, the city council listened to residents on and around Bradbury Street Extension, who were worried about safety in their neighborhood, and voted to put up barriers and make the street a dead end.

On Tuesday, in a 5-4 vote, the council gave initial approval to reverse its prior decision and open the street once more to two-way traffic. Another vote, scheduled for Jan. 6, is necessary to finalize the decision. Councilors Michael Ready, Bob Mills, Bradley Cote and Michael Swanton voted against the decision.

Prior to the council closing the street, the police department surveyed neighbors and conducted a traffic count.

A traffic count found more than 7,700 vehicles passed through Bradbury Street Extension from Oct. 17-31, 2008 and from June 3-9, 2009.

In the survey, the majority of residents contacted said they believed traffic was a problem and that the street should be made a dead end at Mason Street.

Just as they had five years ago, on Tuesday, residents of the area told the council the dead end was necessary for safety reasons.

They said when the street was open, people used it as a throughway to avoid the traffic light at the intersection of South and Elm streets, where there are often long wait times, especially for those making turns.

Those who used the street when it was open also often traveled at high speeds, especially teenagers who used it to get to and from Biddeford High School, residents said.

Jennifer Krasse said she’s had to replace her stoop three times because of accidents on the narrow road in front of her home.

Priscille Moreau said her cat was killed by a speeding vehicle in the area.

“On the hill where it’s blocked, we kids feel much safer,” said 10-year-old Virneka McDaniel. “We would feel much better if you kept it closed.”

“When (the street closure) happened five years ago,” said Joanne Twomey, who was mayor at the time, “it was about the children.”

“The street is so narrow,” she said. “It’s not wide enough to have two cars.”

Not all members of the public spoke in favor of keeping the street a dead end.

Roland Ferguson said he fought in the Korean War “for the rights, freedom and safety of the people,” and closing the road went against what he fought for.

Mike Chretien, who owns two properties in the area, said initially he favored the street closure. But the recent fire on Green Street on Nov. 23 concerned him, and he thinks the street should be open to two-way traffic, so fire trucks will have better access to the area.

On Tuesday, Police Chief Roger Beaupre recommended to either repeal the current ordinance and make the street two-way again, “or close it once and for all and be done with it.”

Councilor Michael Ready said he was against reopening the street because he thought it would continue to be used as a shortcut, so public safety would still be an issue.

Councilor Roger Hurtubise said he recommended the order because the residents he talked to said they wanted the street open.

He said he also thought opening the street was important in order for public safety vehicles to get in and out of the area.

In addition, said Hurtubise, there are plans for development in the area where the street is now closed. “I believe this is a very serious safety issue,” he said, and the street should be opened.

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 324 or [email protected]

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